RIO DE JANEIRO – Junior dos Santos was surprised to find out his upcoming opponent, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, would not be accompanying him for a promotional trip to Brazil. But the jovial former champ insists he’s not upset. After all, he thinks the mental edge is all his.
“For me, I don’t care about the other guys, other people,” dos Santos told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “They do whatever they want to do. I’m doing my part, and I think it’s very important, especially here in Brazil.”
As MMAjunkie.com previously reported, Velasquez was announced as a participant in a Rio de Janeiro stop on the promotion’s multi-city UFC World Tour 2013. However, Velasquez didn’t make the trip to South America and instead returned home following stops in California, New York and Texas.
A representative from Velasquez’s camp insisted he was never planning on going to Brazil, but dos Santos said he didn’t here anything to that effect until after a Thursday stop in Houston.
“I asked, ‘Cain is coming to Brazil, too?’” dos Santos recalled. “Somebody told me, ‘No, no. He’s not going anymore.’”
Dos Santos (16-2 MMA, 10-1 UFC) completed his responsibilities at the final stop on the tour without Velasquez (12-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) while meeting with reporters throughout the day before hosting a fan Q&A session prior to Friday’s UFC 163 weigh-ins. Meanwhile, Velasquez was able to return to American Kickboxing Academy and resume his training.
In a sport in which small variables can mean all the difference in the world, one could argue that additional time was an advantage for Velasquez, but dos Santos said he’s not concerned.
“It’s going to be just two days more,” dos Santos said. “I don’t think he’s going to get that much better than me in just two days. I do think he could have come to Brazil, but he didn’t want to.”
So with both men now done with their tour commitments, it’s time for the two heavyweights to shift their focus to an upcoming trilogy bout, which headlines UFC 166 on Oct. 19 in Houston.
Velasquez and dos Santos first met at UFC on FOX 1 in November 2011, when dos Santos stopped Velasquez in just 64 seconds. That was Velasquez’s first defense of the belt after taking it from Brock Lesnar.
In their rematch at UFC 155, though, Velasquez dominated dos Santos for five rounds to win back the belt. His win over Silva marked his first successful title defense.
Some fans have suggested Velasquez likely will have the mental edge heading into the third contest since he was caught quickly in the first meeting but turned in a through beating for 25 minutes in the rematch. Dos Santos actually believes the opposite is true.
“In his mind, he knows he gave his all – he gave everything he had – and he couldn’t finish the fight,” dos Santos said. “I finished the fight in one minute. I think I have the advantage, and he knows that. But both me and him have to be perfect in our strategy to win this fight.”
For the latest on UFC 166, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.